‘Whistleblowers’ to be encouraged
Douglas Flint, HSBC’s chairman, appears to have had a ‘light-bulb’ moment!
The boss of one of the most heavily fined banks in the world seems to want his bank to turn over a new leaf. Speaking recently at the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI) launch to try and persuade financial service staff to become ‘whistleblowers’ and to speak up about violations of their company polices, it sounds like he’s changed his ways.
Flint has backed up a campaign called “Speak Up” that urges financial staff to voice their opinions on corporate wrongdoings. He claims that delayed whistleblowing can be seen as sinister by outsiders to the industry.
Whilst the headlines appear positive, will Mr Flint back up his claims and put plans in place to remove the barriers in place that currently deter staff from raising issues?
Pressures and Targets
Executives and senior management decide on salary and bonus structures within a business. They also determine the environment in which staff work in.
By placing emphasis on, and encouraging a bonus led culture where basic salaries are low and heavily subsidised by sales led bonuses, they are creating an environment that, whether directly or indirectly, inevitably leads to manipulation, mis-selling and breaches of regulation.
Furthermore, by putting in place bonuses for management based on the performance of frontline staff, this encourages management to ‘turn a blind eye’ to regulatory breaches as there are financial gains to be had via bonuses, and senior management to please by hitting targets set.
It is specifically these types of set-ups that have led to two huge mis-selling scandals. The first one we probably have all heard about, the PPI scandal. The second is following hot on the heels of PPI, and it’s the mis-selling of Packaged Bank Accounts.
It’s all well and good Mr Flint, to be speaking out and claiming you want whistleblowers to come forward to report issues, but actions speak louder than words and you must create an environment that allows staff to feel comfortable in doing so.
Ask yourself a question…Would you feel comfortable raising concerns to your manager if your basic salary was barely enough to make ends meet, if you were heavily reliant on your bonus, if your performance affected your managers bonus, if your performance affected your managers’ managers’ bonus, if you risked losing your job for raising a concern, if you risked losing your job for not hitting your target? It’s hardly conducive to creating an open and trustworthy environment is it.
Flint, a close personal friend of the CISI chairman Alan Yarrow, told the audience of his ideal that financial service staff must feel comfortable in speaking out to their manager if they feel the company is exploiting customers or if they notice any wrongdoings in the companies polices. He claimed to recognise there is a huge problem and the well-being of staff should be hugely important. He continued to say that staff who do voice their opinions on the behaviour of the banks, should be celebrated not condemned.
Mr Flint said that if whistleblowers didn’t come forward then the bank could become toxic. Actions do rapidly become toxic, due to some financial staff being given more money than others in bonuses. Bonus money to mis-sell products such as PPI and Packaged Bank Accounts.
Reportedly, the US Securities & Exchange Commission has paid out a whopping $150 MILLION to the whistleblowers of corporations. With this, some have become millionaires by making other people exploit innocent customers. We would welcome such an organisation in the UK to encourage employees to step forward with concerns.
Many employees have been punished for speaking up against wrongdoings to their bosses. There is a huge risk in all job sectors to speak out, in some cases against your boss, due to the high chance of losing your job or being ostracised by fellow colleagues. The CISI recognise this and have announced plans to set up a “financial hardship fund” which would ensure financial safety to any who wishes to speak up and become whistleblowers about wrongs they see in their workplace.
Douglas Flint’s speech continued, trying to discuss how banks should be run. However, he failed to mention that HSBC, his very own bank, where fined £1.2 BILLION in 2012 by American authorities for allowing Mexican drug cartels to launder money via HSBC’s branch network. He also failed to mention his banks part in the huge PPI mis-selling scandal, in the Packaged Bank Account scandal, and about the numerous fined imposed on HSBC for serious regulatory failings.
Our Turn Now
Douglas Flint claims he has noticed his own wrongdoings and quite clearly spoken out about them, maybe he is trying persuading others to do the same.
Our opinion is that it’s too little, too late. Whisteblowers should be encouraged to come forward by providing a safe and secure environment to do so. You’ve had many chances to put that in place and you’ve failed Mr Flint.
It’s time for customers to fight back.
Your Money Claim are the industry experts in claiming mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance and Packaged Bank Accounts.
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